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Gossip Column: Galfond Defeats ‘ActionFreak’ to Win 2nd Challenge; Perkins Stirs Controversy With ‘Ghosting’ Allegations (Updated)

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  • Namita Ghosh May 27, 2020
  • 4 Minutes Read

The verdict is out! Run It Once (RIO) Poker founder Phil Galfond has won his second Heads-Up PLO Challenge, defeating Ioannis ‘ActionFreak’ Kontonatsios! ‘ActionFreak’ dealt severe blows to Galfond towards the end, but the PLO legend held on to his lead to eventually win the challenge with a profit of €114,803. Along with these winnings, Galfond pocketed an additional €150,000 from the even-money side bet.

There was a twitter storm raised by the billionaire poker player and hedge fund manager Bill Perkins, who came out making damning allegations of being cheated in a private online poker game on May 24. Indicating that the “cheating scandal” was so significant that it would make the highly publicized Postle scandal look like a church service. He went on to allege that a very prominent (Top 7) player had ghosted an account. Perkins made these accusations in a vague tweet without spelling out the names of the perpetrators. While the poker community was still debating the allegations, Instagram sensation Dan Bilzerian jumped into the controversy by claiming that he, along with Perkins and a few others, had been cheated by someone called Sina Taleb, who had used Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates to ghost for him!

UPDATE (May 28): While Cates had initially denied the allegations, it has since come to light that Bilzerian was indeed right. A day after refuting the claims, Cates shocked the poker community by tweeting a detailed confession. He attached a document with his tweet yesterday, where along with a long confessional, he explains the reasons for his action. The document also included an apology to Perkins. Jungleman might have cleared his side of the story, but only to land himself in the crosshairs of the poker Twitterati!


Phil Galfond Defeats ‘ActionFreak’ to Win 2nd HU Challenge!

Phil Galfond has proved time and again why he’s considered one of the world’s top PLO specialists. After completing the 15,000 hands in the second Galfond Challenge against Ioannis ‘ActionFreak’ Kontonatsios, Galfond came out ahead by €114,803! Along with the winnings, Galfond banked an additional €150,000 in a side-bet.

Phil Galfond


RIO Poker tweeted the official results.

This is the second consecutive challenge that he has won. His first heads-up challenge against the formidable ‘VeniVidi1993,’ went all the way down to the wire. Galfond was a big underdog at one point before he staged a phenomenal turnaround to come out on top.

Galfond has won two mini-challenges between the two challenges as well, against ‘AmSoGood’ and Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates.

But to say that it was a comfortable ride to victory for Galfond in the second challenge would undermine ‘ActionFreak’s remarkable run in the last few sessions. We last reported Galfond leading ‘ActionFreak’ for €450,653.08 after 16 sessions of play, with 3,250 hands left in the challenge.

Another 750 hands were played on Session 17, and ‘ActionFreak’ won €180,000, cutting Galfond’s lead down to €270,698.66.

Galfond hit back in Session 18, winning €135,000 over 840 hands.

Even though Galfond had pulled ahead for €405,698.66, ‘ActionFreak’ most definitely kept him on edge. Swinging the game back in his favor in Session 19, ‘ActionFreak’ booked a six-figure profit worth €168,000 after 820 hands.

RIO Poker tweeted the update.

That was the penultimate session of the challenge. Galfond entered the final session in the lead for €237,698.66, well aware that this was never a comfortable margin for ‘ActionFreak’! Even Galfond admitted that he’d hoped to close the challenge, but ‘ActionFreak’ wasn’t making it easy for him.

Sure enough, ‘ActionFreak’ won the final session as well, profiting €123,000 after 881 hands. Despite the last few winning sessions of ‘ActionFreak’, Galfond came out ahead by €114,803 to win the challenge!

In the aftermath of the fierce battle, Galfond admitted that he was disappointed not to have won the challenge by a more substantial margin, but said that he was happy to win such a tough match.

So are we next going to see the RIO Poker founder play Cates in yet another, full-blown PLO Heads-Up Challenge? We sure hope so!


Bill Perkins Makes ‘Ghosting’ Allegations, Bilzerian Hints at Jungleman

On May 24, poker player and hedge fund manager Bill Perkins tweeted a series of serious allegations alleging a poker scandal that would make the Mike Poste scam look like a church service. He went on to assert that he had been cheated in a private online poker game, where a very accomplished poker pro had ‘ghosted’ a friend’s account.

Bill Perkins


Adding a layer of mystery to the allegations, Perkins refused to name anyone, but that didn’t stop high stakes pro and Instagram sensation Dan Bilzerian from coming out with his own ‘ghosting’ allegations, and all his fingers pointed towards Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates.

Cates immediately retaliated by refuting the allegations. But that said, the storm seems to have just begun!

UPDATE: Initially buckling down, Cates yesterday rendered a full-blown explanation. In his tweet, Cates apologized to Perkins for ghosting though clarifying that he had played very few hands against Perkins.


Perkins Makes Wild Allegations

It all started on May 24, when Perkins tweeted that he was disappointed in many people who were considered poker heroes.

While people began speculating who Perkins was hinting at, Perkins ruled out Jason Koon.

Responding to a comment, Perkins also said that he had actually won in the games in which cheating took place, but it was the integrity that mattered, not the results.

However, Perkins later retracted his statement, where he had compared the cheating scandal to Mike Postle‘s case, saying that he had reacted emotionally.

Pekins, however, didn’t take it so well when Doug Polk pointed out that he would have received a better reception to his allegations had he listed names instead of protecting the guilty for money.

Unlike Polk, Valentin Vornicu had a different take on the controversy.

When asked why he wasn’t naming the person, Perkins kept beating around the bush.


Enter Dan Bilzerian!

What began as a shocking outburst by Perkins soon snowballed into more significant proportions, with Dan Bilzerian making his own set of claims.

Dan Bilzerian


Bilzerian, who has more than 31.3 million followers on Instagram, charged that someone called Sina Taleb had cheated him, Perkins, and others on the Fun Ocean poker app by having Cates play on his account.

Bilzerian later removed the tweet but not before it racked up Cates’ feathers. Replying to his allegation, Cates responded by saying that he hadn’t played a hand of poker with Bilzerian ever, pointing out that there was rampant ghosting on the site mentioned.

Now, Cates is not someone who enjoys a very sound reputation in the poker industry. Back in 2011, he was named in a cheating scandal that involved José “Girah” Macedo and Haseeb “Dogishead” Qureshi. The fact was pointed out by Vanessa Selbst, who reacted to Bilzerian’s charges against Cates.


NEW UPDATE: Cates Confesses

In his apology and confessional posted on Twitter last night, Cates admitted to ghosting for someone called Sina but pointed out that none of these sessions involved Bilzerian.

Dan Cates


“To be clear, I started playing with Sina (his last name is not Taleb, for the record) on May 8th and ultimately played very few sessions, none of which were against Dan Bilzerian as claimed.”

He apologized to Perkins. “I played very few hands against Bill Perkins, who sat in a game I understood was rampant with professionals who were ghosting. I thought since many on the site were using pros to play for them (which was clear by the uniquely high level of play) at the time it felt acceptable for me to be playing. Unfortunately Bill got caught in the crossfire and I’m very sorry for that.”

Cates accepted his mistake and added that he would refrain from such actions in the future. “While I don’t think it’s fair that I’ve been singled out for something many were much more guilty of, I accept that as a role model for the poker community my punishment should be disproportionate compared to a normal player. I hold myself to a high standard of ethics and aspire to be devoid of inequity, but I still make mistakes and am sorry for my actions. I will do my best to behave better in the future.”

Nick Schulman was one of the staunch supporters of Cates in this controversy. As Cates put it, “I’d also like to give gratitude to my friends and the people that supported me on the internet and other communications. Your efforts were vital to mitigating this situation and I appreciate your concern for me. Special thanks to Nick Schulman who contacted me to make sure I was ok and started the #Freejungle movement. If anyone else believes in my integrity and that I should not be lambasted over the internet, I would appreciate any support and will appreciate it especially if I know you.”

Reacting to Cates’ tweet, Perkins replied that he was happy that Cates has come out with an admission.

Others like Shaun Deeb and Grant Hinkle didn’t agree with Cates’ reasoning.

A few Twitter users shot back at Schulman for defending Cates. Schulman responded by saying it wasn’t such a bad case of cheating, and it was hypocritic to call out Cates for a practice that many pros have indulged in.

Keep following the latest developments in this story on PokerGuru!

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